Sunday evening, the Orlando Magic fell to the Detroit Pistons, 104-102, in yet another heartbreaking loss. In his third consecutive start, J.J. Redick scored 31 points, but Pistons guard Brandon Knight scored a career-high 31 of his own, and all four of Orlando's game-tying tip-in attempts in the final seconds missed the mark.
Fighting through adversity
After a 12-13 start to the season, Orlando hasn't enjoyed much success. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn offered his analysis for his team's struggles.
"Overall we've had to deal with a lot of issues," Vaughn said, "whether it was injuries, different guys in the lineups. That's probably the major culprit which has forced us not to be in the greatest of rhythm, but at the same time we've done a lot of things that we're getting better at. So it's part of the NBA, it's not easy."
Not everything is negative. Vaughn has also learned something important about the character of his team as it's battled through tough times.
"I got a great group of men who enjoy playing, enjoy competing, kept their heads up and continue to pull for each other, and that's what you want. That's a sign of good things to come."
Magic power forward Glen Davis earned a technical foul at the 8:33 mark of the third quarter for arguing with referee Ken Mauer on a non-call; Davis had just lost control of a ball out-of-bounds and thought Pistons center Greg Monroe fouled him on the play. For Davis, it was the fourth straight game with a technical foul, and he now leads the team with five on the season.
"It's been messing up my game," Davis said of the technical fouls. "It's been messing up the flow of my game, and I gotta grow up."
The technicals come at a cost to the team as well. "You get a technical at the wrong spot [in the game] and people get [a] foul shot," Davis said. "And then also it's costing me money. Think about it: $2000, four techs. What's that? You do the math."
Davis came close to picking up another techincal with 6:42 remaining in the fourth when Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva tied him up to force a jump ball. Davis thought he was fouled and angrily pleaded his case to any official who would listen. A less patient referee would have ejected the LSU product for that outburst.
Praise for O'Quinn
Prior to Sunday's game, Orlando rookie center Kyle O'Quinn drew praise from Vaughn.
"Kyle's been good," Vaughn said. "He continues to learn. He is great around the guys, great in the locker room, [and] he's the first one off the bench when something happens, good or bad, to congratulate a guy or to pick a guy up."And for me, that's huge."
Vaughn went on to assess O'Quinn's skills:
"He is gonna be good athletically for us, getting out [and] guarding pick-and-rolls. He has a knack to go after the rebounds and be aggressive. He has an aggressive nature about himself. I think you've seen [in] the time that he's played that he's pretty comfortable facing up and shooting the 15-footer."
Indeed, O'Quinn has shown a surprisingly strong face-up game for a prospect widely regarded for his contributions defensively. O'Quinn has shot 6-of-12 outside the restricted area, according to NBA.com's stats database.
Still, O'Quinn has plenty of room for improvement. "We'll continue to help him with his back-to-the-basket game," Vaughn said. Overall, though, Vaughn gave the impression that he's impressed with O'Quinn on personal and professional levels.
"I've been pleased with having him on our team, and I'm glad he's on our team, and I really enjoy being around him," Vaughn said.
Rondo injury doesn't alarm Vaughn
The Boston Celtics learned Sunday that they'll be without All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo for the remainder of the season. Vaughn said he didn't know how Boston would adapt--he only learned about the injury from an assistant coach just before Vaughn's pre-game shave--but was confident it'd figure something out.
"I'm not sure about what [the Rondo injury] does for their team," Vaughn said. Doc Rivers is a great coach and they got great players on that team."
Davis, who played alongside Rondo for four seasons with Boston, wished his former teammate well.
"I just pray to God that he has a speedy recovery 'cause he's an awesome player and he does the game of basketball really, really well," Davis said.